Palmetto (train)

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Amtrak Palmetto Number 89 in Wilson North Carolina.jpg
A Palmetto pulls into Wilson, North Carolina.
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleSouthern United States
PredecessorSilver Palm
First serviceJune 15, 1976
November 10, 1996
Last serviceFebruary 1, 1995
Current operator(s)Amtrak
Ridership380,815 total (FY16)[1]
StartNew York City
EndSavannah, Georgia
Distance travelled829 miles (1,334 km)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)89/90
On-board services
  • Reserved coach
  • Business class
Seating arrangementsAirline-style coach seating
Catering facilitiesLounge car
Baggage facilitiesChecked baggage available at select stations
Rolling stockAmfleet coaches
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Track owner(s)Amtrak, CSX

The Palmetto is a passenger train operated by Amtrak on a 829-mile (1,334 km) route[2] between New York City and Savannah, Georgia, via the Northeast Corridor, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. The Palmetto is a shorter version of the Silver Meteor, which continues south to Miami, Florida. Between 1996 and 2002 this service was called the Silver Palm. Although currently a day train, in the past the Palmetto provided overnight sleeper service to Florida.

During fiscal year 2016, the Palmetto carried 380,815 passengers, an increase of 82.5% from FY2015. The train had a total revenue of $27,208,372 during FY2016, a 61.4% increase over FY2015.[1]


The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad's Palmetto arriving at Decatur, GA on April 12, 1963
The Palmetto at Florence, South Carolina, in 1977. A GE P30CH is in the lead.

Amtrak introduced the Palmetto on June 15, 1976. The train drew its name from the Sabal palmetto, the state tree of South Carolina. The name Palmetto Limited had also been used by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for a New York—St. Petersburg train which first ran in December 1909. The Palmetto was the first train in the Southern United States to receive the then-new Amfleet equipment, and the 828-mile (1,333 km) run was the longest at the time for the new coaches.[3] At the time of introduction Amtrak planned to run the Palmetto daily for the summer only, with service ending September 8. However, citing better-than-expected ridership, Amtrak extended the Palmetto to a year-round service indefinitely.[4] In October 1976 the Florida Department of Transportation urged Amtrak to extend the Palmetto south to Miami.[5]

Between October 1984 and September 1985, Amtrak operated the Carolinian, a North Carolina-focused regional train, as a section of the Palmetto. The two trains ran combined between New York and Richmond, Virginia. At Richmond the Carolinian continued separately to Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. The Carolinian was discontinued after the state of North Carolina refused to increase its support for the train.[6][7][8]

In December 1988 Amtrak extended the Palmetto south to Jacksonville, Florida. The train continued to be coach-only, without full dining service.[9] Beginning on May 12, 1990, the Palmetto combined with a revived Carolinian, although this time the split occurred in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The two trains began running independently to New York in April 1991.[10][11] In October 1994 the Palmetto became a full overnight with sleeper and dining car service, running through to Tampa, Florida. This replaced the Silver Meteor's Tampa section.[12] This extension was short-lived: budget cuts under the Clinton administration led to the Palmetto's discontinuance on February 1, 1995.[13]


Amtrak added a third train from New York to Miami on November 10, 1996, known as the Silver Palm in line with the Silver Service brand for Amtrak's Florida trains. However, it used the same route as the former Palmetto and carried the same numbers (89 southbound and 90 northbound). While the Silver Star and Silver Meteor ran straight from Jacksonville to Miami, at Jacksonville the Silver Palm turned west and continued over the old Seaboard Air Line Railroad main line via Waldo, Ocala, Wildwood and Dade City to Tampa. At Tampa, it reversed and ran south to Miami. Amtrak restored the Palmetto name on May 1, 2002, after it removed the sleepers and dining car from the train, although it continued serving Florida.

On November 1, 2004, Amtrak truncated the Palmetto to Savannah, Georgia, operating a daytime schedule to and from New York (as it had prior to 1994). With the truncation to Savannah, the Silver Star was rerouted to serve Tampa; the old Jacksonville-Lakeland route is now served by a Thruway Motorcoach bus transfer from the Silver Star, which serves all the former stations as well as Gainesville.[14]

In the January 2011 issue of Trains magazine, this route was listed as one of five routes to be looked at by Amtrak in FY 2011 as the previous five routes (Sunset, Eagle, Zephyr, Capitol, and Cardinal) were examined in FY 2010.[15] In October 2015, in an effort to reduce redundant trains, Amtrak temporarily cancelled one daily Northeast Regional round trip and allowed the Palmetto to take local passengers north of Washington. Stops at New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Princeton Junction, New Brunswick and Metropark were added to the Palmetto.[16]


Amtrak Silver Service (specific Palmetto stops are not marked) (interactive map)

The Palmetto's route has not changed significantly since it first ran in 1976. It parallels the Florida-bound Silver Meteor, making additional station stops. When introduced in 1976 it included two new stations: Dillon and Kingstree, South Carolina. As of 2011 Kingstree sees the Silver Meteor as well.[3] The Palmetto added Selma, North Carolina (Smithfield) in October 1982. In October 2015, it added New Carrollton, BWI Airport, Princeton Junction, New Brunswick and Metropark.[17] Unlike other long-distance trains that operate on the Northeast Corridor, the Palmetto makes local stops as well as major city stops.

The southbound Palmetto only stops to receive passengers between Newark and Washington, and does not allow passengers to travel only between stations in the Northeast Corridor. This policy, which is in place for most medium- and long-distance trains running in the Northeast, is intended to keep seats available for passengers making longer trips. However, local travel on the Northeast Corridor is allowed on the northbound Palmetto.


The Palmetto operates over Amtrak and CSX Transportation trackage:

Bus connections[edit]

In October 2012, Amtrak began operating Thruway bus routes in eastern North Carolina that connect to the northbound and southbound Palmetto at Wilson, North Carolina.[18] One route serves Greenville, New Bern, Havelock, and Morehead City; the other route serves Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville, and Wilmington.


Sample consist
December 27, 2006
TrainNorthbound #51
  • Genesis P42DC #90
  • Heritage Baggage Car #1736
  • Amfleet I Business/Cafe #48190
  • Amfleet II coach #25035
  • Amfleet II coach #25057
  • Amfleet II coach #25117
  • Amfleet I coach #82567

The Palmetto generally operates with a General Electric GE Genesis P42DC diesel locomotive, a Viewliner baggage car, an Amfleet I business class car, an Amfleet I cafe car, an Amfleet I coach, and three Amfleet II long-distance coach cars. North of Washington, D.C. a Siemens ACS-64 handles the train.[2] Unlike most Amtrak long-distance trains, the Palmetto does not have sleeping cars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Amtrak FY16 Ridership and Revenue Fact Sheet" (PDF). Amtrak. April 17, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "PALMETTO". TrainWeb. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Southern Amtrak passenger train scheduled". News-Tribune. April 11, 1976. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  4. ^ "Amtrak Keeping 2 Trains". Waycross Journal-Herald. August 26, 1976. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Edger, Betsy (October 1, 1976). "Amtrak Won't Budge On Schedule Changes". Star-Banner. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  6. ^ Foreman, Jr., Tom (October 27, 1984). "'Carolinian' makes trial run". Times-News. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  7. ^ Waggoner, Martha (September 3, 1985). "The 'Carolinian' Makes Its Last Run". The Dispatch. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  8. ^ Flesher, John (August 13, 1985). "Amtrak talks about scraping Charlotte-to-Raleigh service". Times-News. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  9. ^ "Travel Advisory". New York Times. December 18, 1988. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  10. ^ "Charlotte-Rocky Mount train back on track". Morning Star. May 12, 1990. Retrieved April 4, 2010.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Change to cut Carolinian's run by 40 minutes". The Charlotte Observer. March 15, 1991. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  12. ^ "National Timetable". Amtrak. October 30, 1994. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  13. ^ Weaver, Jay (January 7, 1995). "Amtrak won't cut trips through Ocala". Star-Banner. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  14. ^ Stinson, Lashonda (October 14, 2004). "Amtrak to Cut Service to Several Small Fla. Towns". Lakeland Ledger.
  15. ^ "Amtrak's Improvement Wish List", Trains, January 2011, 20-21.
  16. ^ "Palmetto Trains 89 and 90 Add New Stops and Temporarily Replace Northeast Regional Trains 121, 131, 181 and 198" (Press release). Amtrak. October 12, 2015. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015.
  17. ^ Norton, Debbie (November 11, 1982). "Businessbeat". Star-News. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  18. ^ Fitzgerald, Eddie (October 2, 2012). "Amtrak shuttle service debuts in the East". New Bern Sun Journal. Retrieved November 27, 2012.

External links[edit]